have you ever wondered what the big deal about abstract art is usually when we view abstract art we hear things like my kid could paint that or why would someone pay that much for that however artist Vasily Kandinsky said of all the arts abstract painting is the most difficult it demands that you know how to draw well that you have a heightened sensitivity for composition and for colors and that you be a true poet this last is essential why don't so many people get it and why do artists paint in this style before I get into this it's important to know a little where we are coming from in Western art history a painting had to traditionally represent something there weren't cameras then so rich people generally wanted something to hang on their wall to show off their status during the renaissance between the 14th and 17th centuries huge developments were made with highly realistic linear perspectives Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo became big celebrities during this time now let's fast-forward to around 1870 in France to a group of painters who would become known as the Impressionists the Impressionists wished to capture the impressions of a scene rather than detailed realism some of the big names from this era are Monet and Renoir at the time this title wasn't a compliment the public at first were rather hostile and they weren't really accepted into the art circle until later on these artists wanted to capture a moment in time and often painted outdoors instead of painting in a studio they used visible brushstrokes and wished to show the changing qualities of light the colors were also applied side by side with little mixing so that our eyes would optically mix them together the Impressionists also changed the content for composition they didn't arrange their subjects to demand the viewers attention instead they blurred the boundary between subject and background think of their paintings sort of like a snapshot and yes photography was starting to gain in popularity at this time after the Impressionists came along the post-impressionists this is where we get great artists like Lautrec cézanne go Gann Seurat in that famous guy with the cutoff year Vincent van Gogh next let's jump to the early 20th century – a group of artists who are labeled as animals for their use of strong colors these guys became known as lay folks that's French for wild beasts naturally their art was then labeled as Fauvism they had wild brushwork and vivid colors their subject matter was more simplified than the Impressionists with a degree of abstraction did I mention one of these artists was Henri Matisse okay we're almost done slightly after Fauvism came cubism this was pioneered by Pablo Picasso in Georges Braque cubism became so influential that it also influenced sculpture and music in cubism objects appeared broken and then reassembled instead of looking at something from one viewpoint these artists included many viewpoints of course cubism also had its own movements in differing styles now can you see where all this is leading everything was a reaction to something prior these artists started breaking the idea that painting had to represent something they started breaking the rules of art the Impressionists work looked unfinished the fulvous didn't use normal colors and Cubist's well they distorted everything these artists led the way to show that color line form and texture could be the subjects for a painting this brings us to abstract art basically abstract art doesn't have a recognizable subject it's another step to the left of what came before it they are not trying to have their works look like something instead they settled on color and form it's non objective or non representational abstract art can be geometric such as the work of Mondrian or more fluid such as Kandinsky or Pollock we can also go further and include figurative abstractions which represent things like emotions sound or experience these are big simplifications of reality no detail or recognizable objects are included as the Nazis rose to power in the 1930s several European artists fled Europe to America particularly New York this became a hotbed of activity abstract art also gave rise to Abstract Expressionism which exploded after the war Abstract Expressionism is known for its messiness in extreme applications of paint these artists invented new dramatic ways to apply paint in an experimental manner this is where we get great artists like Willem de Kooning and Jackson Pollock these artists wish to explore inner turmoil anxiety and for some the horrors of the war during this time we also had cultural explosions like James Dean jazz and beat poets like Allen Ginsberg Abstract Expressionism can also be divided into two categories action painting like the work of Jackson Pollock Willem de Kooning Lee Krasner and grace Hartigan Franz Kline amongst many many others and color field painting this involves artists such as Mark Rothko Helen Frankenthaler Jules litski Kenneth Noland and so forth so still don't know what abstract painting is basically your painting doesn't have to look like anything recognizable it can simply be made up of shapes lines colors and/or textures so how can we appreciate abstract art better yet how can we understand it a good piece of work will be able to hold viewers attention and generate an emotional response as a viewer of abstract paintings ask yourself the following questions am I trying to figure out what it looks like or represents rather than allowing something to emerge from what I see in front of me what are the elements colors and textures of the painting how do these interact with each other what emotions does the painting evoke what is the title of the painting and how is this influencing what I see have I allowed enough time to make a connection with the painting abstraction allows you to be free it allows you to express your personality if you're a lively happy person get out that big brush and make large gestural strokes with bright colors if you are nervous or controlled get rulers small brushes with less fluid paints express your moods or feelings and show them through your choices of color texture shape and quality of line relax and have fun